Well I might as well have written some huge guide for the Omaha section, I'm just going to have to freakin' rewrite the whole thing, oh well! I like writing this stuff anyway. Key concepts are coloured. And that is the proper English spelling.
I will say I aint the top expert by any means. If you want to read from that person, I suggest you talk to Mike Matusow, Bobby Baldwin, Mark Gregorich, or Adam Cadle (online aka ADAMTHEEXPERT), and lets not forget Ray Zee. Many of the things I say come from them and I have found them to be true in my experience in playing the game also. Final note on this is that this is aimed at those whom seek to win/play to compete/win the psychological battles etc. If you are a recreational player who is gambling/fooling around/just for fun, then this will be useful to you, but in the words of Bill Lumbergh, "I'm gonna need you to go ahead and move to Storage B". This won't be all that fun to you since you have to sit around and study opponents whilst you wait for good situations to crop up (rarer than in Hold'em).
High vs High Low
I never really did say why Omaha H/L is easier than Omaha High. The simple fact is that there is a lot less variance and swings in the high low version all because its a split pot game between high and low. Most people cannot really handle the volitilty of pot limit omaha high, and to be able to control the pot size, put your opponent on a hand and bet accordingly, play aggressively, know the right spots to bluff, and wow even hand selection is harder. People can't transition from something like Stud or Hold'em and then start playing PLO well whilst taking all the seemingly horrendous beats that they suffer from (and the large pots that they seem to lose at the same time), and they definately do not know their current statistical odds much of the time (the power of the draw is so much greater against the made hand). A lot of the beats do come down to bad hand selection or bad positional hand selection, or often the inability to comprehend that the turn of one single card is so much more often enough to crush your hand than in Hold'em that they can't stop themselves from putting their money in (most often done with flopped set or straight). I can tell you this and I suck at this game. I know why I suck, I just told you why, but I can't even do much about it, its that hard. So when it comes to High Low, provided you can pick out the correct time to enter a pot before the flop (favourable cards, favourable position, favourable opponent-s [loose/station/weak], favourable stack sizes [PLO8]), many of these problems don't exist for you because once you flop that nut low it makes things quite a lot easier, since you know the likelihood is you will get at least half, now you could play any sort of high more aggressively because you have that safety, and at the very least all you have to ask yourself throughout the hand is "will this action aid me in the task of getting the lion's share?". And say you're in the big blind with some garbage like Q74J and it comes 7-4-3. In PLO you might wanna take a stab at this after the small blind checks instead of checking and calling when you could be very easily beaten. But in PLO8 or even FLO8, you would not even think of betting (only sighing that you didnt flop QQ7, sighing again, checking, and folding to the next bet with the auto-fold button clicked) as there is simply no way that you could make any money out of this situation whatsoever. If you were lucky enough to get half the pot (which I would say would happen 1 time in 3 or worse), you ought to be kicking yourself that you made this mistake (of not playing to scoop). These situations are so much easier to avoid than similar ones in the straight High Omaha. In that given situation, you would be drawing to a seven or four, or to blanks (whilst hoping in the dark that nobody made a higher two pair), when you would be clearly an underdog. It is really simple. Don't draw to half the pot when you are clearly an underdog to get said half. You would do well to fold every time you were going for half and knew it actually. This advice generally applies to full ring games and I would not recommend it to heads up (two pair could easily be good for the whole thing even on this flop in HU play). In short, Omaha High Low is easier than Omaha High because all the situations are so much clearer, especially after some experience (wow I can feel who has what at the table just by the way they bet). After a few months experience, a few thousand hands, you will be able to tell who has the nut low and nothing else, who has flopped the nut straight but does not have the nut low on a low flop, who has flopped a weak hand and nothing else, and the one you really want to be afraid of, the one who flopped the nuts/nearly nuts with the nut low and/or the nut low with a strong draw to the nuts (example, A248 (suited hearts) on flop of 35Q (two hearts) and he starts betting and raising like he might die if he doesn't). Tell me you can do that as easily in Omaha High in the same duration. And if you did manage to learn as quickly or quicker, its probably because you lost many buyins in the process (you learnt 'the hard way').
So I guess we'll get into the nitty gritty now.
Omaha High Low Hand Selection
I think I saw someone say something about hand selection and how they couldn't get their head around it. Well I did kind of touch upon that; we briefly discussed high only hands, overplaying/overvaluing A2xx, and even more briefly some concepts like board texture and what a bad hand is before the flop. We'll go into these things more, but I will start off with the most important thing in this game regarding hand selection.
Never Leave Home Without One
As Bobby Baldwin says in his FLO8 section co-written by Mark Gregorich in Doyle Brunson's Super System 2, there is one card rank in the deck so strong and versatile that if you never played a hand without this rank card in your starting hand (which from now on I will call Unit
, and please laugh at the possible phallic reference!), you would not have lost any (or at least almost-zero) profit whatsoever. Just as in Triple Draw Deuce to Seven Lowball you would not (if you intended on winning) play any hand before the first draw without a deuce in it, in Omaha High Low, you would do extremely well to never play a hand that does not have an Ace in it (although I would recommend 'mixing it up' when you're playing $30/$60 or some such high stakes against professional opponents). With an Ace always in your Unit, you can be pretty sure you won't be (I can't help myself here) firing blanks
! Seriously though, you will make the highest two pair, you will make the highest full house, you will make the best possible flush, sometimes the highest possible straight, and the smoothest lows even if they're not the nut lows (rough = 87652 / 86543 [bad eight lows], smooth = 8432A / 8653A [best possible eight / OK eight lows]). Hey, even if you get counterfeited for low, half the time that happens you make top pair! Although you won't like that very often at all. King kicker is valuable, but you'd definately prefer top two pair. Never leave home without an Ace
But Don't Forget To Pack Your Bags First
Blindly following always having an Ace in your Unit and paying little attention to the other cards is like sending the weapons out to war without the soldiers/droids to man them (maybe you like Star Wars). And then all those sanddwellers jump out and say "Yay free weapons" in their foreign tongue. You'd be throwing your money away.
What you need is the discipline to throw those garbage-Ace hands away. The first thing that stamps and certifies with authority that your Unit is doomed to fail
is the big sign that says 6789T. Middle cards in Omaha High Low will be the death of your bankroll and the growth of an unhealthy bulge in your opponents'. The reason for this is that middle cards fail to achieve two things; middle cards cannot make the nut hand when a low is not possible unless it is a full house (so if you play middle cards, your only hope is that it comes T-T-7 and if you're lucky enough to get any action that no higher card comes on the turn or river, and yeah, good luck with that); middle cards will only get half the pot at best when no full house is possible. That my friends, is undeniable. You might yelp, "but what if I'm getting really good pot odds". Well let me tell you, you aren't. Ever! Even if the whole table was "in for a penny, in for a pound!" (LOL) as the saying goes at my home game, and you were on the Button with 6789ds you would not be getting the express odds to call one small bet since the chances of you scooping are well over 12 to 1. It might even be the case in the small blind (but you should just muck if it isn't anyway since you won't be able to play it after the flop unless you're Jesus, basically - and you're not, BECAUSE HE'S DEAD). This extreme situation would be the perfect time to stretch your arms and say, "Corr I'm tighter than a duck's butt" then chucking your cards to the dealer nonchalantly/clicking auto-fold whilst online sitting in your birthday suit in your bedroom whilst your girlfriend moans at you for not giving her enough lovin' (at which point you contemplate "Hmm. Poker? PokeHER?" No, I've not decided which is better either)!
Woah I didn't really get into this enough with examples. AT86ds. This is not a playable Unit (remember playable is under the conditions of full nine or ten handed, assuming the majority of hands are played out multiway at low stakes due to loose players, which is all you're concerned about for now). A965. This is not a playable hand (good luck flopping 234). A667. This is not a playable hand. A699. This is not a playable hand. A7TT. Not playable. Those are some obvious ones.
The next territory we cross into is Units which have some minor playability to them, but in reality are losing hands since their scooping potential is so relatively low compared to the hands you should be playing. I'm talking stuff like AQT6, AKQ5, AJ98, AK68, AJ74. I'm talking stuff like A39Q, A2T9, A2Q7, A2J8. These are hands you can make the nuts with, no doubt about it. You can even make a nut low or decent low with a few of them. But they just won't do it often enough - and even if they make they do make the nuts, it will usually only be for half the pot. OK so it could come 6-7-8 and it doesn't make a flush or boat by the river AND you fail to get counterfeited (odds are something beyond the 7 to 1 region), and you take it all or 3 quarters or two 3rds (rare), or even five eighths (in which case maybe Jesus is actually risen and also building his blessing-the-meek [and bless-ed they be] bankroll by working part time, dealing for your table). That occurance would on the scale of luck be in the region of hitting a one outer for quads in a set under set situation. Maybe even rarer. Its pot of gold over the rainbow stuff with lil' leprechauns. I hope you don't like chasing longer than 20 to 1 shots on a long term basis when the implied odds will never be there Lets just say its not advisable.
Finally in this section I discuss the high quality unpaired Units containing a single Ace. If you could help it, you would only play these hands. As I have said before, to go to war you've got to be prepared. So you need a crack team, The BestathebestSIR, the freakin' Navy Seals. Guys in your Unit who can handle that Ace and make it work for them. Your guys need to work together as a team to win the battles and eventually the war (although so long as you wan to play that will arguably never end)! Holding these cards mean you've got all the bases you can cover with four cards covered. We're looking for hands containing nut low possibilities plus counterfeit protection (the best is A23 but A24, A25, and in some but much less cases A26 can still be useful). We're looking for high potential. Cards which can make straights whilst also making nut/second nut lows, again A23/A24/A25/A26. We're looking for some high cards too, preferably a King or Queen. There's two types of hand in the high quality hand array. There's the two way hand which is a hand like A23Q, A24J, A25K (three wheel cards plus a broadway card). And there's the one way hand (either all low cards with an Ace like A234, A245, A247 etc, or the three all high card hand with an Ace: AKQJ, AKJT, AKQT. There are two features which we are yet to discuss that do continue the principle of remembering to pack one's bags before they leave home with the meal ticket Ace - they have their own sections. I will make a comment about the difference between the playability of two way and one way hands. Two way hands tend to have greater playability under two circumstances, both seperate but enabled to coincide. The first is the betting structure. In PLO8, the Ace and King or Ace and Queen (I won't say you shouldn't play the AJ/AT combos with your two wheelies but they're not as good) enable you to three quarter more often because Aces and Kings with the nut low draw (eg flop A-K-3, you hold AK24) is a much bigger hand in PLO8 than in FLO8 since people will rarely stick around for backdoor draws as much as they do in FLO8 so guys who want to come along with their A247 in PLO8 are going to have to call pot sized bets when, as you can see, their best most likely outcome is a tie for the wheel. The actual case however is that you 3 quarter or get it all
about 77% of the time, and they get half 20% of the time, and maybe 3% of the time they 3 quarter you with running sevens or a combination of running 6 and 5. But they cannot get it it all. And that a crucial point in PLO8. Notice also in that hand if they hit their seven on the turn, if its heads up with him and you he 95% loses half his stack because he'll put the rest of his money in (his hand is huge compared to your range, and he doesnt know you have exactly AK24). So they're going to fold if they know whats good for them. Hopefully not though. And remember in PLO8, when you get quartered, you lose half the money you put in plus whatever rake they slap on. But in Fixed Limit, you'll probably have four or more guys to the turn and three to the river, because hey, its only a few bets (this mentality is why Limit games are more profitable than PL games, and you might notice that in PL games most of the players are weak tight nits who require the nuts because they're so afraid to make a mistake). And all sorts of backdoor shizzle happens. You might even lose the whole put to a flopped set of treys that hit running tens. By the way you would want to CAPtain CAP CAP against the set of treys since he probably doesnt have A2 with it - despite the fact you have no low currently, you still have the most pot equity. I'll run it now for you. 337Qus vs A24Kus on flop of A-3-K rainbow. And then I'll carry this on later, its getting late.